Yes. Love is right here at YHC. Our leadership team, guided by love for you all, meets each week to discuss ideas (yours and ours) about how to bring you an entire menu of deliciously different class options that will promote your wellness in every way imaginable. We hold the view that embracing your wellness starts with a workout.
A workout is an opportunity for you to MOVE your mind, body, spirit, emotions, and will in a way that brings you health, happiness, healing and wholeness. It’s integrated and integrative. Your workout moves you into wellbeing. And although it may sound paradoxical, sometimes a workout is a way for you to NOT MOVE, to work-in, (re)directing your busy mind to move into…stillness. Yes, stillness. The peace of passivity that comes from letting go of activity. Ahhh yes, rest. Sweet surrender. We offer quiet and slow-paced classes to fulfill that paradoxical purpose of purposelessness. These are our “mindful movement” classes, such as yin and restorative yoga. Plus meditation classes. And soon we will be offering you mindfulness meditation retreats. Please refer to the YHC bulletin board for more info on those opportunities for you to give yourself the gift of down time. Yes, love is right here (at YHC). But enough about YHC! Back to the topic of YOU and love—right here, right now, right on.
Sometimes love begins with compassionate and mindful self-care by heading out. Going to a group class to get fit, to get a good workout, and to get (re)connected with others socially is an act of love. Scads of research studies about happiness/quality of life have a common finding: connecting with others socially, such as the case with attending group fitness/yoga/meditation classes, brings an enhanced sense of love, belonging and wellbeing. For example, during a euphoric moment in a fitness class, I often “have a moment” of pure bliss as I am moving to the music and seeing so many smiling happy faces, glistening with the gorgeousness of effort (that’s my effusive way of saying sweating all over the place). I am feeling the love. Love of movement, music, togetherness.
Not everyone is inclined to feel the love socially. For those folks the love journey begins with compassionate and mindful self-care by heading in, within to be specific. These peeps prefer quiet alone time. And it is there that they find their connection to love. I have experienced that type of love on retreats that allow alone time for quiet reflection, silence and stillness. You don’t have to go to a faraway place for that. In fact, you can create a mini-retreat for yourself each day close to home. In all kinds of surprising places. I know of a person who goes on her daily retreat to the bathroom (not for a bath, mind you, no time for that!) when the crazy and hyperactive loudness of the day throws her off center. It is there in the bathroom, she tells me, where she reconnects with her center by letting go of the noisy need to go, go, go and do, do, do. Come to think of it, isn’t the bathroom the place where we “let go” (sound of flushing) so we can feel lighter? Sweet release. Works for my friend at least.
Now let’s exit the potty and head to the party. The love party! Here’s your invite—experience love-in-action with the practice of metta loving-kindness meditation. Right now. Let’s do this. You can practice metta anywhere. Regular (no poo-poo pun intended, honest) metta meditation practitioners often report profoundly moving experiences of deep love and forgiveness arising during their metta practices. BTW: The word metta is a Pali word that means benevolence, loving-kindness, friendliness, amity, good will, and active interest in others. Sounds like true love, eh?! Let’s start with a picture. Contemplate the image I found on Pinterest to get a feeling for the graceful flow of metta. Please read below* for specific instructions about how to do it.
(*The info below about metta was kindly provided by the Metta Institute. Source: https://www.mettainstitute.org/mettameditation.html. And you can even download an entire book about Metta! This book, entitled The Issue at Hand, was written by Gil Fronsdal as a gift to the community. It is freely given and available online. Follow this link: https://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/books-by-gil-fronsdal/)
The practice of Metta meditation is a beautiful support to other awareness practices. One recites specific words and phrases evoking a "boundless warm-hearted feeling." The strength of this feeling is not limited to or by family, religion, or social class. We begin with our self and gradually extend the wish for well-being happiness to all beings.
There are different descriptions of the practice. The following is a basic set of instructions from the book "The Issue at Hand" by Gil Fronsdal written as a gift to the community. It is freely given.
Brief Instructions for Loving-Kindness Meditation
To practice loving-kindness meditation, sit in a comfortable and relaxed manner.
Take two or three deep breaths with slow, long and complete exhalations. Let go of any concerns or preoccupations. For a few minutes, feel or imagine the breath moving through the center of your chest - in the area of your heart.
Metta is first practiced toward oneself, since we often have difficulty loving others without first loving ourselves. Sitting quietly, mentally repeat, slowly and steadily, the following or similar phrases:
May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.
While you say these phrases, allow yourself to sink into the intentions they express. Loving-kindness meditation consists primarily of connecting to the intention of wishing ourselves or others happiness. However, if feelings of warmth, friendliness, or love arise in the body or mind, connect to them, allowing them to grow as you repeat the phrases. As an aid to the meditation, you might hold an image of yourself in your mind's eye. This helps reinforce the intentions expressed in the phrases.
After a period of directing loving-kindness toward yourself, bring to mind a friend or someone in your life who has deeply cared for you. Then slowly repeat phrases of loving-kindness toward them:
May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.
As you say these phrases, again sink into their intention or heartfelt meaning. And, if any feelings of loving-kindness arise, connect the feelings with the phrases so that the feelings may become stronger as you repeat the words.
As you continue the meditation, you can bring to mind other friends, neighbors, acquaintances, strangers, animals, and finally people with whom you have difficulty. You can either use the same phrases, repeating them again and again, or make up phrases that better represent the loving-kindness you feel toward these beings. In addition to simple and perhaps personal and creative forms of metta practice, there is a classic and systematic approach to metta as an intensive meditation practice. Because the classic meditation is fairly elaborate, it is usually undertaken during periods of intensive metta practice on retreat.
Sometimes during loving-kindness meditation, seemingly opposite feelings such as anger, grief, or sadness may arise. Take these to be signs that your heart is softening, revealing what is held there. You can either shift to mindfulness practice or you can—with whatever patience, acceptance, and kindness you can muster for such feelings—direct loving-kindness toward them. Above all, remember that there is no need to judge yourself for having these feelings.
I hope the above instructions and information from Gil Fronsdal’s book took you directly to your heart and you were feeling the love. May your metta loving-kindness meditation practice flourish and may your love grow from the inside out, expanding more and more, eventually embracing the whole world. As stated in the first paragraph, “embracing your wellness starts with a workout.” Be well. Be happy. Be safe. Be peaceful. Be free. Be love.